Eureka! Using data to understand mental health & suicide

31 July 2017

Geoff Webb

Professor Geoffrey Webb is a Data Scientist, which means he analyses data to draw conclusions that lead to the invention of new technologies to tackle critical problems. In his own words, data science “is the science of deriving value from data”.

Data is being collected in ever-greater quantities about almost anything you can think of. This data is collected because people understand they have the potential to provide insight into critical problems and data can help improve the way those problems are addressed.

His latest work, which has included supporting research into male suicide and a range of diseases, has had significant social and economic impact and is the reason he has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Australian Museum Eureka Awards. Presented annually, these awards reward excellence in the fields of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.

Geoff has created numerous data analysis software packages that are widely used to provide insight to help tackle difficult problems. Some have been commercialised and others are free of charge. They are used by business, the public sector and scientists the world over. He also works with governments and researchers to address their data analysis needs. For example, Geoff is currently working on a project with Turning Point, a drug and alcohol centre in which ambulance data is being used to understand patterns in drug and alcohol use, mental health and suicide. These patterns can help identify regions where male suicide is prevalent in one area over another, for example, which may then be attributable to identifiable factors such as the provision of mental health facilities.

You can read more about the awards and other finalists by visiting the Australian Museum website here.


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